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Old 01-07-2012, 01:24 PM   #61
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People have different talents, and different skills.
but they are valued significantly different.

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It is funny parents are extremely proud when their kids scores in the top 5% in the SAT
Not good enough for most Asian families.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:35 PM   #62
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I think one thing that keeps most people from "feeling" rich is a shifting frame of reference.

My wife and I make a combined income that puts us near the top 10% of households, and we live in the Minneapolis area, so we don't have to contend with the massively inflated costs of the coasts.

By every objective measure, we are very well off. However, our friends make similiar money. Our parents make more, my boss makes much more. I am involved in a hobby that has me interacting with people who probably make 10 times what I do. That makes it harder to feel "rich".

What is funny is that all of those "rich" people have the same thing going on. The doctor that makes me feel "poor" when I visit his home is interacting with other doctors, some of them in specialties that make 10 times what he makes. Where I feel in awe of his fancy house, he feels in awe of his friend's mansion on the lake.

I'm sure that the guy with the house on the lake knows people that make him feel "poor".

At the end of the day, I think the only people that really end up feeling rich are Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
To feel better about oneself is not to interact with people who are much wealthier since comparison to others is unavoidable. We get on one of the boat tour of Lake Minnetonka once in a while, seeing all those big houses with servant quarters. I often came with a feeling that why would anyone need that kind house - what a waste of resources.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:38 PM   #63
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I think that there are a few important things that wealth buys in America-

1. Consistently delivered, top quality health care. People who are not wealthy sometimes get good health care but they often do not.
2. Top quality education. You get a very different educational experience in the rich zip codes than you do in the poor ones.
3. A completely different experience interacting with the legal system. I shudder at the idea of having to depend on a public defender for my defense. Does anyone think OJ would have walked if he had been using a public defender?
4. A different experience interacting with our political system. The truly wealthy have more access to our elected representatives, and influence them to a very large degree. The old Texas adage that "you dance with thems that brung ya" is very often true.



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It occurs to me that defining rich in OUR society is difficult. It's only when we compare to the 3rd world that it becomes obvious how "rich" most Americans are. But, to compare to our fellow Americans, it gets much more difficult. I think the problem stems from the fact that (with the exception of the very lowest financial rung - those living in cardboard boxes under the overpass) all Americans have access to essentially all the same things (except for those few at the very, very top who can afford, say, a private jet of their own). Let me explain my point of view.

Even the poorest Americans (assuming they play the "game" - maybe stand in line at a gummint office, etc.) have enough food to eat (food stamps), a place to live (rent control, housing subsidies, etc.) and clothing (Walmart or Salvation Army - hey, don't knock it! Some of my finest Aloha shirts came from Salvation Army.) So, realistically, what in America, can the "rich" have that the "poor" can't have. I'm sure you can find a few things (but, saying 2 houses is a cheat - you can't live in two at once.)

I mentioned a personal jet. But, realistically, "poor" people in America fly. Maybe not as often, maybe not to as exotic destinations, but they do fly.

So, my point is that it actually IS very difficult to say what is "rich" and conversely, what is "poor" in the "Western world". The real distinctions, for the most part, between rich and poor are in quantity and quality. These may be difficult to define ("How many houses can you use?" or "Would you actually PREFER to fly to Vale for skiing or would a gambling junket to Vegas be more fun to you?") Your answers to these questions may reveal YOUR definition of rich, but not everyone's definition of rich.

But to be specific about my situation, the richest I ever felt was before we got kids in the mid '90's and my assets were growing so fast that my results exceeded my salary several years in a row. THAT felt rich.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:16 PM   #64
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I think that there are a few important things that wealth buys in America-

1. Consistently delivered, top quality health care. People who are not wealthy sometimes get good health care but they often do not.
2. Top quality education. You get a very different educational experience in the rich zip codes than you do in the poor ones.
3. A completely different experience interacting with the legal system. I shudder at the idea of having to depend on a public defender for my defense. Does anyone think OJ would have walked if he had been using a public defender?
4. A different experience interacting with our political system. The truly wealthy have more access to our elected representatives, and influence them to a very large degree. The old Texas adage that "you dance with thems that brung ya" is very often true.
Your point is well stated and taken. What I was saying is that (with the possible exception of the under-bridge dwellers AND the uber-wealthy) all these are degrees of "more" or "better" - not "none" or "exclusive" in the USA. Lots of places in the world, only the wealthy (where everyone else is "poor") have any right to all these things. That's why it's difficult to define wealthy in the USA. Few of us are excluded from any of these things based on our wealth. However, your list could probably be used as a definition of "rich" in the USA.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:52 PM   #65
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Now, what I have never fully understood, is why we are not allowed to brag about our looks. Maybe because it's obvious to everyone who is gifted in that department, and who isn't, so why discuss it?

Amethyst
Hum, that hasn't stopped the two really good looking woman I dated nor the thousands I have wanted to but never did from telling many stories of how how their good looks have helped. I am pretty sure the stories of traffic tickets turned into warning, late assignments that teachers have accepted, free drinks scored, clubs waltzed into, undesirable work assignments avoided, bureaucratics bending rules, all because hot girl flash a winning smile and some skin are all ways of bragging about looks.

I am pretty sure that I have been the subject of a few of these stories myself.

My top two choices for being reincarnated are being a pampered house cat, or a hot girl.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:16 PM   #66
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Your point is well stated and taken. What I was saying is that (with the possible exception of the under-bridge dwellers AND the uber-wealthy) all these are degrees of "more" or "better" - not "none" or "exclusive" in the USA. Lots of places in the world, only the wealthy (where everyone else is "poor") have any right to all these things. That's why it's difficult to define wealthy in the USA. Few of us are excluded from any of these things based on our wealth. However, your list could probably be used as a definition of "rich" in the USA.

I agree and also point that there is rapidly diminishing benefit to higher priced "better" products. A $400-500 37" TV is not that much worse a viewing experience than $2K 60" TV, same thing with $400 computer vs $2K, a 20K Hyundai vs a $100K Mercedes, or flying coach vs 1st class, $10 vs $50 wine. The quality of most low end goods is pretty remarkable now days.

I'd argue that most of the status symbols, Rolls Royce, Rolex, $5000 50 year old wines, are actually worse than the top end of the luxury brands. For example I bet Lexus and Mercedes are actually better cars than a Rolls.

Finally, I'd argue that increasing importance of virtual goods is a great leveler. A poor kid with a used laptop and free wifi connection has the same access to all of the free information on internet, that I or Bill Gates has. Since young people by and large are pretty cavalier about paying for digital goods, this kid has the same access to books, games, movies, as a rich person. Gates and my money only buy the minor feeling of moral superiority of purchasing a digital object instead of stealing it.
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:04 PM   #67
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But you don't really approve of their bragging, do you? [and I'm willing to bet those ladies didn't dare brag about their looks around other women - biiiiigg no-no taboo, that is]. Whereas, nobody tut-tuts at the people at work who can't stop bragging about their kid who is going to a prestigious college for free, thanks to scholarships. Which is just another way of saying, "WOW, what great DNA I passed on, and what a terrific job I did of nurturing it!"

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Hum, that hasn't stopped the two really good looking woman I dated nor the thousands I have wanted to but never did from telling many stories of how how their good looks have helped. .
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:30 PM   #68
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But you don't really approve of their bragging, do you? [and I'm willing to bet those ladies didn't dare brag about their looks around other women - biiiiigg no-no taboo, that is]. Whereas, nobody tut-tuts at the people at work who can't stop bragging about their kid who is going to a prestigious college for free, thanks to scholarships. Which is just another way of saying, "WOW, what great DNA I passed on, and what a terrific job I did of nurturing it!"
You are right about kids, bragging about them is fair game.

As far as woman bragging around other woman, I am no expert but I think there is a fair amount of subtle bragging. I remembered my 5' 9" 120 lb girlfriend complained about putting on 5 lb, the dagger-like looks from other woman in the office, made me think that they thought she was bragging.

I said in a rather loud voice, "you know Jackie somehow I doubt you are going to get a lot of sympathy about gaining 5 whole pounds" and everybody cracked up. This may explain why she dumped me a couple of months later...
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:51 PM   #69
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No, the other women were actually annoyed with you for liking such an extraordinarily thin woman, but our society doesn't really allow women to attack men for such things, so they looked daggers at her, instead!

A.

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As far as woman bragging around other woman, I am no expert but I think there is a fair amount of subtle bragging. I remembered my 5' 9" 120 lb girlfriend complained about putting on 5 lb, the dagger-like looks from other woman in the office, made me think that they thought she was bragging.

.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:06 AM   #70
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I think that this may be one of the causes of the rapid appreciation in the top end of many collectible markets.

The ultra-wealthy are reaching the point where there is nothing really useful to spend their money on, consumption-wise.

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I agree and also point that there is rapidly diminishing benefit to higher priced "better" products. A $400-500 37" TV is not that much worse a viewing experience than $2K 60" TV, same thing with $400 computer vs $2K, a 20K Hyundai vs a $100K Mercedes, or flying coach vs 1st class, $10 vs $50 wine. The quality of most low end goods is pretty remarkable now days.

I'd argue that most of the status symbols, Rolls Royce, Rolex, $5000 50 year old wines, are actually worse than the top end of the luxury brands. For example I bet Lexus and Mercedes are actually better cars than a Rolls.

Finally, I'd argue that increasing importance of virtual goods is a great leveler. A poor kid with a used laptop and free wifi connection has the same access to all of the free information on internet, that I or Bill Gates has. Since young people by and large are pretty cavalier about paying for digital goods, this kid has the same access to books, games, movies, as a rich person. Gates and my money only buy the minor feeling of moral superiority of purchasing a digital object instead of stealing it.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:13 AM   #71
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No, the other women were actually annoyed with you for liking such an extraordinarily thin woman, but our society doesn't really allow women to attack men for such things, so they looked daggers at her, instead!

A.
You'll have to admit that Clifp must be pretty cool to snag a 5'9" 120 # woman. Just walking down the street with her will improve his reputation in his 'hood, especially if she will take his arm and then lean over and kiss his cheek. I have good looking gf. I ask her to wear heels when she comes around, she improves my standing with my neighbors. I tried to get her to moan a little louder toward the same effect, but she said I don't rate that. It's even getting harder to get her to wear heels. She says she can't wear heels if I insist on taking buses instead of driving because the walking is too hard.

Ha
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:57 AM   #72
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This quote is perfect. Thanks for sharing, W2R.
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"My greatest skill in life has been to want but little” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:05 AM   #73
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This quote is perfect. Thanks for sharing, W2R.
Sorry, but I don't agree.

If one has the assets and desires that match (or in our case, assets that greatly exceed our desires), what is the harm done in "following your bliss"?
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:12 AM   #74
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Sorry, but I don't agree.

If one has the assets and desires that match (or in our case, assets that greatly exceed our desires), what is the harm done in "following your bliss"?
Bernie Madoff followed his bliss...so there may be exceptions.

I used to make bliss a priority, but in time I realized Thoreau was on to something. YMMV
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:19 AM   #75
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No problem. This is America, it is ok to disagree.
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Sorry, but I don't agree.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:23 AM   #76
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Bernie Madoff followed his bliss...so there may be exceptions.
I'm not Bernie ...

However, I don't necessarily with those that chose to live "less than they can" just because they think that they owe something to "the masses".

Heck, we've saved/invested over our lifetime for ourselves, and the benefit of our (disabled) son, after our passing.

So we spend the "excess" now to have a good life, for the remainder of our years? And anything left over? It will go to our named charities.

Sorry, we have no regrets on our decision...
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:28 AM   #77
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Am I alone in finding that once I acquired the means to purchase some of the things I have desired I no longer want to do so?
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:32 AM   #78
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You'll have to admit that Clifp must be pretty cool to snag a 5'9" 120 # woman. Just walking down the street with her will improve his reputation in his 'hood, especially if she will take his arm and then lean over and kiss his cheek. I have good looking gf. I ask her to wear heels when she comes around, she improves my standing with my neighbors. I tried to get her to moan a little louder toward the same effect, but she said I don't rate that. It's even getting harder to get her to wear heels. She says she can't wear heels if I insist on taking buses instead of driving because the walking is too hard.

Ha
Back to the theme of the OP, I'd say both of these make you rich, especially if "rich" is measured in part, as noted in earlier posts, by envy.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:33 AM   #79
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I'm not Bernie ...
You're not? Oh darn, there goes that hypothesis. (just kidding!)

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Am I alone in finding that once I acquired the means to purchase some of the things I have desired I no longer want to do so?

Not at all. I think on one of the other threads, it was pointed out that truly rich people tend to drive Ford F-150's instead of luxury cars.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:39 AM   #80
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However, I don't necessarily with those that chose to live "less than they can" just because they think that they owe something to "the masses".
We've lived below our means and will continue to do so for the independence it provides. We'd rather have options than things, 'the most important things in life aren't things' and I think that was largely Thoreau's POV. Owing to "the masses" has nothing whatsoever to do with it, I would guess that reason would be low on most people's lists, but maybe I'm mistaken.
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